how to tune up a bike

The following is a list of items that will help you tune up your bike.

Please remember to tighten and properly secure all nuts and bolts before getting on the road, not only will it make for a safer ride, but also prolongs the life expectancy of your components and ensures that they won’t fall off.

Bike Tune-Up Items – Low Priority

The following items can wait until you have the money or enthusiasm to get them. They are considered less important and should be done last if at all.

They will contribute to a more pleasurable ride though.

Saddle: it’s important to have a comfortable seat. If the soft tissue on your sit bones disappears, you’re pretty much riding with just muscle power.

tune-up the bikes

Handlebar tape: Handlebar tape gives a good grip and absorbs road vibration. And if you’re going touring, it can be a place to write phone numbers of those you meet along the way.

Brake pads:  If your brakes squeal or don’t work as well as they used to, it’s time for a change. Look for smooth gliding and traction against the wheel rim without any hint of grinding times two (once when squeezing and once when fully applied).

Brake cables: If your brakes don’t seem to work well, the culprit may be too much friction in the cables. You can adjust them yourself by taking off one brake-cable end piece and adjusting the innards with a screwdriver.

Tire pressure: The right tire pressure will influence several aspects of your ride. If your tires are under-inflated, you will be rolling over the road in a more jarring fashion and the bike won’t corner as well either. Also, if your tires are too soft, you increase your chances of flatting them by running over something sharp (e.g., broken glass). While you can adjust tire pressure yourself, it is strongly recommended that you have a professional either adjust it or do so for you, to ensure proper inflation.

Chain: If your bike doesn’t shift gear well anymore and the drivetrain makes noise when rotating the cranks, then it’s time to give your chain a thorough cleaning and proper lubrication. A dirty chain leads to slow shifting and wear of your drivetrain.

Snapped or frayed cables; it’s time to replace your cable(s) if they show cracks or the protective layer is peeling off.

Bike Tune-Up Items – Medium Priority

The following items are important, but not as crucial as the items in the list above. They’re things you should check more frequently and have a professional look at when they’re having problems.

Spokes: Keep an eye on your spokes for fraying or loose ones. It’s advisable to replace them before they snap.

Brake cable housing: The outside of your brake cable housing can be used for makeshift repairs if you lose or break a spoke and need a temporary solution.

Tires: When it comes time to replace your tires, make sure that you get the right type for your bike. Also, make sure that the tires are of equal size (front to rear) and style (e.g., clinchers or tubular). When you replace your tires, always have a professional do the work for you.

Headset: While it is possible to adjust a headset yourself, it takes some practice and a keen eye to do it right. And unless you’re really confident in your skills, when you buy new handlebars, ask the salesperson to ensure that the headset threads are compatible with your current bars.

Bike Tune-Up Items – High Priority

The following items need immediate attention if something is wrong or they’ve failed altogether.

Brake levers and shifters: If your brake levers or shifters aren’t working properly, it’s time to take advantage of the warranty you hopefully have on your bike. If that’s not possible, then see if you can get a good deal at a garage sale or pawn shop.

Crank arm length: Cranks come in a variety of lengths. If you have the wrong length, it could be causing some knee damage.

Rust: Rusting is a sign that your bike’s getting old. However, rust can also lead to rot which is even worse and may require a new frame altogether.

Frames and Forks: Frames and forks are subject to normal wear and tear, but they can also become damaged in a fall. If you fall heavily on your bike, have it checked afterward by a professional.

Frame tubes: Not all problems with your bike can be seen from the outside. It’s possible that one of the frame tubes could develop a localized weakness and eventually break. When that happens, the bike will cease to be safe and you should replace it.

Tires: If your tires are bald, they’re dangerous and not worth riding on. Rather than spend money on new tires, invest in a new bike instead.

Suspension fork seals: Oil-filled suspension forks require regular servicing and maintenance. Seals may wear out or become damaged, which leads to loss of performance.

Pedal bearings: Pedals are easy to replace and it’s not too expensive, but it’s one more thing that can wear out on your bike.

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